Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pineapple Ginger Salt Bars

Now that Christmas has come and gone, I'm actually starting to get low on soap for the first time in a while. I made several batches as gifts for family and friends - the holiday soaps are gone except for a few end pieces that I kept. And because I was saving the holiday soaps for Christmas, we used up most of our older bars.

Which means I can make more new batches! I try to stagger my soapmaking sessions so that we don't have too much soap around here. Christmas helps thin the herd some, as do birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. If I have more soap than I know what to do with, I'll pack a box to send off to my mom and dad. 

With a dwindling supply of soap, I am itching to experiment with some new techniques. Something I've been wanting to try for a while is making salt soap.I saw a wonderful tutorial on salt bars by Sarah from Ladybug Soapworks some time ago and I have been looking forward to trying it.

Making salt bars is similar to making regular soap, but the recipe is a bit different. Salt is usually included at somewhere between 50% - 100% of the oil weight when making salt bars. Suppose my total oil weight is 32 ounces - if I want my salt ratio at 100%, I would add 32 ounces of salt to my traced soap; if I want my salt ratio at 50%, I would use 16 ounces of salt.

Pink Himalayan Salt
Because salt is a lather-killer, the soap recipe must be adjusted. Salt bars are usually high in coconut oil, which is typically anywhere from 80% - 100% of the total oils in salt soap. Why coconut oil? Because it is the only oil that lathers well in salt water, making it perfect for salt bars. For my salt bars, I followed Sarah's recipe and used 80% coconut oil, 15% avocado oil, and 5% castor oil.

But won't all of that coconut oil be drying to the skin? After all, soapmakers normally use no more than 30% coconut oil in their recipes because the soap can be drying otherwise. The answer would seemingly be yes - unless you do a high superfat. Superfatting means that the soapmaker uses more oil than is necessary to react with the lye, leaving a portion of the oils unsaponified. The unsaponified oils create a mild, moisturizing bar, and they also assure that the soap is not lye-heavy by providing a buffer. (Superfatting is also sometimes referred to as a lye discount.) I usually factor a superfat of 7% into my regular soap recipes, meaning that 7% of the oils in the recipe do not react with the lye, leaving them unsaponified and sort of free-floating in the bar. But because coconut oil can be drying in high amounts, a higher superfat is needed. Most soapmakers go with a 15% - 20% superfat for salt bars. I went with a 20% superfat.

A slab mold with dividers keeps salt bars simple.
The kind of salt that you use is important, too. I have read that epsom or Dead Sea salts are NOT good choices for salt bars, as they draw moisture from the air and will cause the soap to "sweat" excessively. I found some pretty Pink Himalayan salt and used it at 65% of my oil weight (which worked out to be 21 ounces of salt to 32 ounces of oils). Why 65%? Because that was how much salt I happened to have. I wanted to try 70% to start, but just didn't have quite enough salt to get there. I'm betting that 65% will be wonderful, though, and I can try different ratios in future batches.

Another thing to keep in mind is that salt bars get rock hard very quickly.They need to be cut soon after molding, like within a few hours or less. If you wait too long to cut a loaf of salt soap, it will likely crumble and be generally difficult to deal with. To avoid the anxiety of cutting bars ("Do I cut now? Is it too soon? Or have I waited too long?"), I opted to use a slab mold with dividers so that I would not have to cut anything.

And for the scent? Salt bars seen kinda spa-like to me, so I chose something tropical. I settled on a yummy Pineapple Ginger fragrance oil from  Elements Bath & Body. Sadly, it appears that Elements no longer carries this scent, as I cannot find it on their website.

Here's a video of the making of my Pineapple Ginger salt bars:


What's so great about salt bars anyway? Well, I have never tried salt soap before, but I hear that it produces a creamy, lotion-like lather that leaves the skin feeling moisturized. My mom and I once visited a boutique in Sandestin, Florida that had a salt scrub that was apparently very popular. A shipment had just come in and the salespeople were pushing the scrub pretty hard, inviting customers to try it out in the store. We asked, "Won't the salt be drying?" The saleswoman said, "Oh, no, not at all. Come try some." And she did a little demo and let us try out the scrub ourselves. It left our hands surprisingly soft and smooth. We didn't buy any of the scrub (it was kinda pricey), but she told us that they can barely keep it in stock and that it sells out as quickly as it arrives. I'm wondering if salt soap performs similarly and can't wait to find out!

I did try a bar from this batch about two weeks after making it, just to see how it compares to my regular soaps. The lather was creamy, rich, and dense and it left my hands feeling soft. "Lotion-like" is a good way to describe the lather. Not in the sense that the lather itself has the consistency of lotion, but in the sense that it felt like I had applied lotion to my hands after using the soap. The soap is nice now, but I'm sure that it will be even nicer after another four weeks or so of curing time!

Have you ever made or bought salt soap? How did you like it?

37 comments:

  1. Your bars are really pretty, Jenny! I didn't believe it when you said Elements no longer has that fragrance and had to go look for myself. I just bought some in October! It's a great scent and perfect for the salt bars. Salt bars are still on my (every growing) list of things to try, although I don't know why I don't just go ahead and make some. I'm going to use BB's 12 bar silicone mold because I don't want to worry about getting them cut either. :)

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    1. Thanks, Linda! I was surprised, too, when I went to go link to Elements' Pineapple Ginger FO and couldn't find it. It seems like it was there not long ago. Using a slab mold or individual molds seems like the way to go with salt bars so you don't have to worry about timing the cutting. I hope you give the salt bars a go - I can't wait to see yours!

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  2. I remember that demonstration at that little boutique in Sandestin -- loved the way the salt scrub left my skin feeling. I think it is wonderful that you can get that same effect with a soap...and pineapple ginger sounds yummy!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! I thought you'd remember the salt scrub demo. Seems like we did buy some perfume there, too. I'll have to save a bar for you so you can try it out. And the scent is yummy!

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  3. The bars look pretty, I love the color. Is that the salt I sea? It's a bit hard to tell from my computer scream. I'd like to try Himalyan salt too next time. I made salt bars using equal amounts of coconut oil and sea salt. The bars don't sweat at all though. They stay nice and dry. I found they work great on my feet, the salt gives a nice scrub and I used eucalyptus EO which smells delicious. Marieke

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Marieke! The salt is Pink Himalayan salt, and from what I can tell it comes from Pakistan near the Himalayas. The ocean salt was compressed and crystallized beneath the mountains, forming the salt caves from which it is mined. It sounds like your sea salt bars turned out lovely, and I'll bet the eucalyptus EO smells wonderful!

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    2. I bought a bag of Himalyan salt a couple of days ago. Can't wait to give it a try!

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    3. Cool! Have fun soaping with it!

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  4. Salt soaps are ones of my favourites, but I believe the soap gets better the longer you let it cure. Nice recipe , Jenny, and the fragrance is yammy!
    I have tried only twice salt bars, and I still have one as 'souvenir'. My recipe was 80% coconut oil, 20% castor oil, 75%( of oils) sea salt, superfat 20%. This recipe worked for me.
    Thanks for sharing your experiment, I 'll need a refresh for my next salt soap!

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! It seems like nearly all soap gets better with age. The Pineapple Ginger fragrance oil is yummy - I'm sad that Elements doesn't seem to carry it anymore. Your recipe sounds great, too. I'm looking forward to trying mine out after at least 6 weeks of curing. Then I can see if I want more castor oil in my next batch. Can't wait to see your next salt soap!

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  5. Beautiful salt bars Jenny! I like the pretty pink Himalayan salt, and the Pineapple Ginger sounds wonderful...too bad it's discontinued. I'm down to my last two of salt bars. I really like them, and my plan is to make some more one of these days. I used the same recipe as you, but I used table salt (at 70%)..it's a great recipe! :)

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    1. Thank you, Kalla! I'm glad to hear that you used the same recipe and had good results. I'm looking forward to giving my salt bars a proper try after they finish curing, but from the test I did at the two-week point, it seems like it is going to be a lovely soap!

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  6. Very nice Jenny! I love your choice of fragrance! I just made me wished I had some around to try. I have never done any salt bars in CP. I did try it in Melt n Pour and was ok with it. Maybe I should try to see if I like it in CP. I need to do a little bit of more research before I am brave enough to try! :) Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks, Roxana! I hope you give salt bars a try. It seems like the batch I made is going to be lovely, and I hear lots of other soapmakers praising salt soap. Amy from Great Cakes Soapworks and Amanda from Lovin Soap also have some great blog posts and tutorials about soap bars, if you want to give them a Google. Can't wait to see your salt bars!

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  7. I´ve made salt bars before and they are one of my favorites. My sister and mother uses them every day when they wash their faces. My sister has greasy skin and my mother very dry skin, and they both love the same soap. Maybe I should make some more, because I´ve used all my salt soaps.

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    1. Thank you, Marika! Isn't it interesting that salt soap works wonders for both oily and dry skin? I have very oily skin, so I'm curious to see if this soap will help with that. And I hear it leaves dry skin feeling soft and smooth. I will have to try to keep salt soap around, too!

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  8. Your salt bars turned out so grate Jenny! I followed similar recipe: 80% coconut oil, 20% shea butter (20% super fat and 75% of salt) and was very pleased with final result. Now, after so many trials of other soap types, salt soap is still one of my favorite!

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    1. Thanks, Gordana! Sounds like lots of soapmakers have very nice things to say about salt soap. I'm glad to hear that you used a similar recipe and enjoyed your soap. I can't wait until these bars finish curing!

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  9. Great tutorial, Jenny...you explained everything so well! I never thought to use Himalayan salt, great idea! The fragrance sounds amazing too!

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    1. Thank you, Cee Gee! The Himalayan salt is such a pretty pink color, and I love the yummy scent, too.

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  10. Thanks for citing my tutorial! Your soap looks great! I also make my salt bars in a divided slab mold now. It makes it so much easier than trying to remember to take your soap out of the oven after 2 hrs and then trying to slice it!

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    1. Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing your salt soap tutorial - it was a huge help to me, and I'm sure it will be greatly helpful to other soapmakers as well. I was afraid that I would forget to take the soap out of the oven, or that I would wait too long to cut it, so I was glad that I had a slab mold with dividers, too. Thanks again for sharing your technique!

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  11. Just loved this tutorial and the video made it seem so easy! Can't wait to try this but have to order the himalayan salt!

    Blessings,
    Gloria

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    1. Thank you, Gloria! I'm glad that the tutorial and video were helpful. Enjoy your batch of salt soap!

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  12. Wow, Jenny, I will definitely try a salt bar soon! Thanks for the tips, your soap looks gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you, Iulia! I hope you enjoy your salt soap if you give it a try!

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  13. I've never used a salt soap bar, but your description sounds wonderful. It's a lovely soap you made, Jenny xxx

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    1. Thanks, Polly! I'm looking forward to using this batch once it's fully cured. From what I can tell from testing a bar early on in the cure, it should be a lovely soap!

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  14. Love it! They turned out so gorgeous. =)

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    1. Thank you, Anne-Marie! I like the pretty pink color that the salt gives the soap.

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    2. It definitely makes it pop a bit! Great choice. =)

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  15. Your soaps look great Jenny! loving each bar.

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    1. Thank you, Adina! I am very happy with how this batch turned out.

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  16. Hi Jenny, just wanted to say thank you for your lovely comments on my blog. It's really stimulating to have such a great soap maker liking my soaps!

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    1. You're welcome, Marieke! Your soaps are beautiful and I always enjoy seeing your creations. And thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog, too!

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  17. Hi Jenny! Thanks for your tutorial. Your soaps look great. I've tried them before and the cutting was a disaster. I'm planning another batch but will be using a 12 bar silicone mold so I hope they will just pop out and have a smooth surface. Spring and summer seems the perfect time to do them.

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    1. Hi, Angie! Thanks for your comments. I'm glad that the tutorial was helpful! The silicone bar mold sounds like a great idea for avoiding cutting problems. I need to make another batch of salt soap soon, too - I'm almost out. Salt bars are wonderful for the spring and summer! Happy soaping!

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